An old college roommate's mother used to say "you can do anything for a year." Its true. I lived in London for almost a year, I've been on the verge of penniless for a year, I've tried so many different forms of religious expression for roughly a year each. I've blogged for a year. I've studied theatre, art history, world religions, American history, farming, birth, parenting, unschooling and other interests for about a year each. (If I keep listing things, I'm gonna sound really old, so I'll stop the list here.)
In all this searching, I've found a handful of constant Truths. The Truth that continues to ring the loudest is We Are All Connected. How I supplement the soil affects the bug population which affects the plant production which affects the food supply which affects the hunger level and food quality of the population which in turn affects the health and peace of the planet. How I treat my neighbor affects his mood which affects how he treats the next person he comes across and so on. From this base, the rest of my convictions begin to take shape.
I was raised in a conservative christian household. Like many "good christian" families we were at the church building any time the doors were open. We limited our interactions to church related activities, "helping" those less fortunate usually by praying for them. And yet I somehow came away from that house with a musical appreciation for the Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Sarah McLachan, Boys to Men, and the other heathen artists of my high school years.
My mother blames my part-time attendance at the public high school for my spiritual degradation. I thank that same experience for opening up my mind to the possibilities this life has to offer. I never would have found my professional passion or my husband without the freedom of mind to explore my convictions. But what I truly learned from that "real world" experience (as real as high school gets) is the simple difference between those two perspectives: blame and thanks. Blaming coats an experience in a blanket of negative assuming the only result is something less than positive. Thanking an experience for the opportunity to learn and grow acknowledges that, while not all the choices made may have been the most helpful, one can come away with profound revelations and know what choice might serve better the next time around. That simple, yet profound distinction set me in a lifelong search for the spiritual expression that makes my soul fly.
And so, here I am nearing the end of a year in Texas surrounded by a lovely group of Wiccans. I have discovered that what I love about Wicca is the same aspect I love about Judaism, Buddhism, Jainism and many tribal ways: the focus on the female in deity and a love of the mystical. It was always hard for me to understand the compassion of an angry Father God, but compassion in a Mother Spirit who holds her children with loving arms while letting them choose their own expression of life without judgment is an easier picture of unconditional love for me to digest. The concept that the energy we put into our deeds comes back to us, found in the theories of Karma or the Three-Fold Rule, which only works when love it spread unselfishly without trying to change or manipulate is such a freeing idea! I don't need to convert anyone to my way of being, I just need to live true to myself and accept others as they are when they cross my path. In doing so, I will inadvertently spread the freedom of simply BE-ing to those around me and spread peace. For when we try to impress others, we begin to let stress into our lives.
While I adore these expressions of love, I do not completely understand any of these faith traditions. I still haven't chosen one that fits me. Chanting in Sanskrit always brings tears to my eyes and releases the tightness in my chest. Honoring the Moon and living by the Seasons is not only sustainable spiritually, it is required if I want my garden to thrive without artificial aides.
At the moment, I am a blend of many things. A little backwoods farmer, a little bit of a country-dweller, a little bit of a city girl, a little bit of a non-Christian. So, according to definition, I must be a Pagan. Whatever label I ascribe myself, I will live fully in accordance to the peaceful nature of my heart. I only ask that you be gentle with my heart, for what faith tradition you choose is your choice and I will not ask you change the direction your heart is set upon.
May we continue our journey together in peace and do our best to understand each other. No one lives the same experience as any one else, therefore we can not expect any one to have the same convictions or be on the same path as ourselves.